Monday, November 30, 2009

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying; And this same flower that smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying.” ~ Robert Herrick

A few days ago I went to the post office with my five-year-old daughter. While we stood in line, she talked non-stop, her little voice filling in the pockets of silence so common in an adult setting. A gentleman in front of us seemed particularly amused by her constant chatter, and turned several times to kindly smile at her; his approval infused her with even more energy – if that’s indeed possible – and she talked about everything, from Santa Claus to the playground at the park, and even about her doll that doesn’t cry anymore because she fed it too much water. She patiently waited by my side, but could not stand still for more than a couple of seconds; one or more parts of her tiny body were constantly moving, energized by the quick silver of youth.

In contrast, the gentleman in front of us appeared tired. He stood without complaining, but it was painfully obvious that he was uncomfortable. Yet, his face was kind and his smile gentle, acceptance and appreciation gracefully etched in the lines of his face.

My gaze darted back and forth from my daughter to the old gentleman several times. In front of me was the human equivalent of a day in time – my daughter was the passion and fire of sunrise, the boundless energy and hope of a new day; the kind gentleman was the sunset, with his composed and gentle energy, able to paint everything with the breathtaking colors of knowledge and wisdom accumulated throughout the day. He lacked the powerful energy of sunrise, but his gift was one of acceptance of all that can’t be changed.

And here I stood in the middle, my own presence that of midday. I realized then that I don’t have the unspoiled energy of sunrise, nor do I have the peaceful wisdom of a beautiful sunset, but I do stand on a platform between the two – I still have the energy to change things I don’t appreciate in my world, and the ability to focus on goals that are important to me. Standing in the middle of the path, I have learned that some things should just be embraced for what they are, positive or negative, while some others are still worth fighting for. I have accepted that I can’t change the world, but I am in charge of fostering my own happiness. I no longer care much about petty behaviors and superficial rewards, yet I start each day with the unbridled hope of a child on Christmas Eve.

I wondered if the old gentleman’s thoughts floated anywhere along the same lines as he watched us, two generations eagerly walking the footsteps he left behind. I wondered if he had any regrets, or any dreams he hadn’t been able to fulfill which he had stored into a drawer of his soul. Watching him filled me with resolve – why wait until tomorrow to do something about today? As Mother Teresa so wisely said: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

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